How to do ski camp right: Get your summer shred on in 2013
There is no better way to spend a part of your precious summer than at ski camp. Get coached from the best pros in the world, session great parks in the softest conditions, eat hot dogs for lunch, and well, generally have a pretty damn good time. But which camp? Momentum? Windells? Woodward? The choices! You’re guaranteed to have fun whichever you choose, but we’re here to help you make the choice that’s just right for you.
Here or There
Every camp has its own unique experience to offer, and for a lot of people, the decision comes down to cost and off-hill experience.
You don’t have to be Warren Buffett to realize that from most places in the US, flights to Vancouver are more expensive than to Portland, Reno or Denver. It’s pretty simple, going to camp in Canada costs more. On average, a full session at Windells is less than Momentum, and Woodward Snow is less than Windells. That being said, each camp’s session prices vary and can fluctuate based on à la carte options (day camper, ski-only camper, just lane access, etc.). Plus, you’re gonna need a passport to go to Canada, which will cost you another $120 to $165 depending on your age. So if you’re on a tight budget, keep it in the red, white and blue.
If price doesn’t matter, then look at the differences between camp locations. Whistler, BC, where Momentum is based, is bursting at the seams with restaurants, activities, bars (for those over 19), and is generally considered one of the most fun towns in the entire world. The Windells compound is packed with a ton of traditional off-hill ski camp activities (see off-hill activities section), but Sandy, OR, has a similar population to New York City—in the mid-to-late 1600s—so don’t expect much in the way of local fare. And if you take a trip to one of the Woodward campuses, you’ll find that the Tahoe and Copper areas aren’t exactly known for their after-hours scenes. Ultimately, it comes down to what you want to get out of camp. If skiing and skating are your only objectives, any camp will suffice. If you’re looking for a bit more atmosphere outside of the camp, Whistler is your better bet. If you want a traditional summer camp experience—cozy cabins and mess halls—take a look at Windells.
What to Bring
Besides the obvious—you are going to ski camp—you’ll want to err on the side of warmer weather gear. Hoodies, pipe gloves and noninsulated pants will make up the base of your wardrobe. “Sunscreen and lip protection are a must,” says coach Dania Assaly. “And don’t forget, smiles and positive vibes so you can conquer any weather!” Do your eyes a favor and don’t forget dark lenses for your goggles. Hopefully, you’re blessed with a whole session full of sun and warm temperatures, but bring a winter coat just in case. Bring extra socks, gloves and base layers because skiing in hot weather tends to make things, well, smelly. Buy a GoPro, too, so you can show your friends you did something more fun than they did.
Bring cash. You’ll need it for the coaches’ sale. “Kids can get their favorite pro’s skis, goggles, outerwear and swag for cheap!” says Assaly. Pros and up-and-comers who make up the coaching staffs of the camps have loads of gear from sponsors. So, they peddle new and mostly new next year’s gear to you. “You won’t break your parents’ bank and will be decked out the next day on the hill,” Assaly adds.
What to expect
“Ski camp will help you learn everything you need to know to be the best skier on the planet, while having the best time ever,” says Mike Riddle, a five-year Momentum coaching vet. So it doesn’t matter if you’re about to win Superunknown or barely learning how to slide rails, expect to have a great time, learning from some of the best pros in the biz. “When I was little and went to camp, I looked up to the coaches and wanted to be like them. So now, it’s not only about skiing but helping kids have fun and making everyone’s experience better.”
As far as camp lanes go, they are a veritable feast for jibbers. Imagine rails and boxes of every size and shape. Jumps that progress in size from small to are-you-serious? Slushy halfpipes, creative jibs and bags of salt. “The best part of summer parks is how soft they are. You can do any trick you want with low consequences. You have quick laps and coaches around to help you,” says 2011 X Games gold medalist Alex Schlopy. “It’s a fun vibe as opposed to winter where your toes are cold and you gotta get hot cocoa.” Bobby Brown, 2012 X Games gold medalist, says about Windells, “On hill is insane! Some of the best park features I’ve ever hit, with tow ropes that allow for endless laps.”
Skate parks. Paintball. Video review. Zip lines. Biking. Trampolines. Water ramps. Soccer. Basketball. Basically the most fun stuff ever. “There is never a shortage of things to do,” says Bobby. “Off hill is just as fun [as on], with the campus at Windells being a full on skate park, along with an indoor tramp setup.”
No matter where you head, remember to keep an open mind and enjoy the experience. Summer camp is meant to be fun, and summer ski camp is no different, with the exception that your counselors aren’t college freshmen on break, they are world-class pros like Carlson and Dorey. Oh, and make sure you bring enough money for the coaches’ sale. Can’t stress that one enough.
About the author:
Freeskier Magazine—This is skiing.